5 Small Business Owners Share How They Take Time to Celebrate Business Milestones

When you and your team are busy with day-to-day operations, it’s easy to overlook reaching important milestones like hitting sales numbers or winning a new account. Yet, acknowledging and even celebrating business achievements is an opportunity to recognize employees while also sharing your success with customers.

Running a business is hard work, even when you’re on an upward trajectory. Let’s face it – it’s easy to burn out when you’re nose to the grindstone for months or years at a time. One of the most important ways that businesses owners and their teams can maintain motivation and enthusiasm is to celebrate milestones. These events serve as a reminder that all of the hard work is worth it and progress is being made.

Of course, there are countless ways that business milestones can be acknowledged. From employee events and parties to bonuses, gifts and even public announcements. To help inspire your own celebratory efforts, we asked five small business owners to share how they recognize their achievements and those of their employees.

Giving Small Rewards with Big Impact
As the old adage goes, it’s not the gift, but the thought that counts. When you’re on a limited, small business budget, you may not be able to offer impressive bonuses or incentives. However, this shouldn’t deter you from acknowledging exemplary work. In other words, it’s more about the act of recognizing efforts than the size of the gift. Robert Hake, owner of MyLocker.net, has proven this with his approach to thanking his team.

“When one of our employees goes above and beyond and exceeds expectations, we surprise them with a jar of candy,” says Robert. “The gesture isn’t expensive, but it’s memorable like their performance. And, of course, people notice a jar of candy sitting on a desk because they are human beings who want to eat candy! Others will ask what they did for the reward and then it incentivizes our other associates to a certain extent.”

Tracking Progress
Monitoring progress toward achieving goals is important when it comes to celebrating milestones. Your entire team can benefit from seeing that their efforts are delivering a positive impact on the company as a whole. Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com, uses this strategy to enable her team to achieve specific sales goals.

“Every month we have a different sales goal to hit,” says Deborah. “At the front of the office, we have a giant thermometer up on the wall to track our progress. As we make more sales, we fill in the thermometer. If we reach the top, we celebrate with a catered lunch. It is fun and it keeps the team motivated.”

Acknowledging Personal Achievement
Celebrating company-wide goals and milestones is certainly a great way to keep up the collective spirit of those who support your efforts. However, it’s also important to personally recognize employees for their individual achievements.

“I try to build a personal connection with everyone who works for me,” says Lisa Chu, owner of Black N Bianco, an online retailer of children’s formal wear. “When a job is well done, I like giving out hand-written notes to employees showcasing their specific accomplishments and recognizing their hard work. I also reward employees with something extra like a gift card that legitimizes the celebration. These efforts help keep my employees motivated and working toward the growth of my company.”

Making Celebrations a Family Affair
Working long hours and making other sacrifices to grow a company requires tremendous dedication on the part of employees. When milestones are achieved, one way to thank those who are making them happen is to also acknowledge their loved ones.

Avishai Weis, founder and CEO of Apartable, a property search website, believes that company-wide achievements should be celebrated with friends and family. “We celebrated a recent achievement by going to a private Greek cooking class, and we each brought a “plus one.” These outings allow us to get to know each other’s interests, family and friends, creating a deeper connection with each other and a stronger team. I also believe that the cohesiveness these outings create allow for effective communication and teamwork within our group.”

Establishing Traditions
Celebrations are just as important to businesses as they are to families. Over time, they become traditions that are looked fondly upon by all those who participate in them. Incorporating a quirky or different way to mark milestones or goals can be incredibly important for building loyalty and creating a family-like atmosphere that promotes employee retention.

Brandon Baker, owner and head chef of Loveletter Cakeshop understands the importance of tradition-building with his team’s way of celebrating a sale. “Our bakery specializes in alcohol-infused cakes, so we are constantly buying top-shelf alcohol. One of our flavors is infused with Moet & Chandon champagne. Every time we close a deal with a new bride, whoever closed the deal has the honor of popping open a mini bottle of Moet, and we all take turns enjoying small sips of the best champagne money can buy. This never gets old!”

A Few Tips for Celebrating Your Own Business Milestones
When it comes to celebrating milestones, there are no hard and fast rules. However, there are some guidelines that can help you make your celebrations and acknowledgements as beneficial as possible.

  1. Don’t Let Office Politics Affect Who Gets Acknowledged
    Achievements should be rewarded fairly, based on merit. It can be painful and demotivating for those who are not being acknowledged when questionable achievements are being celebrated.
  2. Keep Celebrations In Check
    Parties that encourage less than professional behavior can work against positive achievements being made. A celebratory glass of champagne to toast the completion of a sales goal is appropriate. A raging keg party that lasts all night is probably not such a good idea.
  3. Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Saying Thank You
    Taking the time to say thank you for a job well done can go a long way toward sustaining momentum in reaching larger goals. Not every goal or milestone needs to be followed by a party or a gift, but a thank you is always in order.
  4. Tailor the Celebrations and Gifts to Recipients
    You may love attending hockey games. This doesn’t mean that you should necessarily take your team to the next Stanley Cup play-off to celebrate your business’ new acquisition. Think carefully about what your team would appreciate and gear your efforts accordingly.

Like how families celebrate birthdays, graduations and weddings, business owners can and should recognize important milestones to acknowledge all of the hard work that went into making them happen. As Oprah Winfrey once said, “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” This certainly is the case when it comes to business, too.

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